The Swedish Royal Family: Scandinavian royals

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The Swedish royal family not only has a long tradition, but is still present in the media today. The “royals” from the far north are particularly popular and are regarded as a model family. Last but not least, their weddings and the royal family’s offspring have attracted worldwide attention. Find out how the Swedish royal family came into being and who belongs to its three existing generations here.

The Swedish monarchy

The history

Jean Bernadotte
Jean Bernadotte became King of Sweden in 1818, founding the dynasty named after him.

The history of the Swedish royal family goes back a long way – it is considered one of the oldest in the world. The first documented king was a Viking king from the Ynglinger dynasty, who ruled over Denmark and Sweden around 970 AD. He called himself Erik VIII, the “victorious one”. In the course of history and political upheavals, the noble houses changed again and again. The House of Vasa is of particular importance: Sweden gained its independence in the 16th century and finally separated from Denmar, which made Gustav I Vasa the first king of an independent Sweden. The annual Wasa Run, which is still organised today, is named after him.

The current members of the Swedish royal family come from the House of Bernadotte – the dynasty that has ruled Sweden since 1818. The founder of the dynasty was the brother-in-law of Napoleon’s brother and French Marshal Jean Bernadotte. He was adopted in 1810, under Napoleon’s instructions, by the last king of Sweden, who was childless. Bernadotte was thus first appointed crown prince of Sweden and then, after the king’s death in 1818, finally became the new king of Sweden. Thus, the current royal family is not related to the original Swedish nobility. The Swedish royal family is named after the founder and is therefore called Bernadotte.

The significance today

Sweden is a parliamentary-democratic monarchy today, which means that, although King Carl Gustav is the head of state, his duties are purely representative. He therefore has no political function, but plays a special role in festivities and ceremonies. These include the annual Swedish National Day and Nobel Day, on which the King presents the Nobel Prize to the laureates. Since 1979, the Swedish monarchy has legally allowed the female heir to the throne to become Queen of Sweden.

However, the royal family is still very present and a part of Swedish culture and tradition. Even though the reigning King Carl Gustaf had to fear for his reputation a few years ago after rumours of a scandal arose, the family is highly respected by the Swedish population. The official website “” of the Swedish royal family, including the Instagram and Facebook account of the same name with insights into the lives of the family members, is particularly popular.

Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel
The wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel was watched by many people around the world on television.

Incidentally, all members of the family have either the abbreviation H.M. or H.K.H . in their title. These letters can also be seen written in many places in Sweden. H.M. is the abbreviation for “Hans Majestät” for the King and “Hennes Majestät” for the Queen. Whereas H.K.H. stands for “Hans” or “Hennes kungliga höghet”, i.e. “His” or “Her Royal Highness”. All princesses and princes of the Swedish royal family bear this title.

The royal family and its members

King Carl XVI Gustaf & Queen Silvia of Sweden

King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden
King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden (Photo: Alexis Daflos, Kungl. Hovstaterna)

Carl XVI Gustaf (*1946) became King of the Swedish monarchy in 1973, although he has four older sisters. He is the seventh monarch of the Bernadotte dynasty and his official title is H.M. Konung Carl XVI Gustaf. His mother was a German princess of Saxe-Coburg. He is the cousin of Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Since April 2018, Carl Gustaf has been the longest-reigning king in Swedish history.

He met the German Silvia Sommerlath (*1943), during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, who was working there as a hostess. In 1976, they married in Stockholm and Silvia became Queen of Sweden. They have three children: Victoria, Carl Philip and Madeleine.

Silvia and Carl Gustaf live at Drottningholm Palace near Stockholm, the family’s original summer residence.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden & Prince Daniel of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden (Photo: Mattias Edwall, Kungl. Hovstaterna)

Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée (*1977), with full name, is the first-born daughter of Carl Gustaf and Silvia and thus the first in line to the throne. By changing the all-male line of succession, she becomes the first queen in the Bernadotte dynasty, which will be the first time in several hundred years that a woman will occupy Sweden’s throne. She is currently the Duchess of Västergotland.

Victoria studied at Yale University in the USA. In 2010, she married her long-term partner and former fitness trainer Daniel Westling (*1973) in Stockholm, who now bears the titles Prince of Sweden and Duke of Västergötland.

They have two children, Estelle and Oscar, with whom they live at Haga Castle in Solna near Stockholm, Sweden.

Princess Estelle & Prince Oscar

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar with their parents
Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar with their parents (Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström, Kungl. Hovstaterna)

Estelle and Oscar are the children of the Crown Princess couple Daniel and Victoria. Their first-born daughter Estelle (*2012) is second in line to the Swedish throne after her mother. She bears the title of Duchess of Östergötland.

Her younger brother Oscar (*2016) is third in line to the throne according to the law of succession. He is not only Prince, but also Duke of Skåne.

Prince Carl Philip & Princess Sofia with Prince Alexander, Prince Gabriel & Prince Julian

Swedish Royal Family Prince Carl Philip and Sofia of Sweden
Carl Philip and Sofia of Sweden with their sons Alexander, Julian and Gabriel (Photo: Elisabeth Toll, Kungl. Covstaterna)

Before the change in the law of succession to the throne, Prince Carl Philip (*1979) was Crown Prince for one year. He is now 4th in line to the Swedish throne after Victoria’s children and is the Duke of Värmland, as well as the godfather of Princess Estelle and Prince Nicolas. Among other things, Carl Philip studied graphic design and is co-founder of the label NJRD.

He has been married to the Swede Sofia Kristina Hellqvist (*1984), who is now Duchess of Värmland, since 2015. They have three sons together: Prince Alexander (*2016), Duke of Södermanland, Prince Gabriel (*2017), Duke of Dalarna and Prince Julian (*2021), Duke of Halland. They live together in a villa on the Stockholm island of Djurgården.

Princess Madeleine & Christopher O’Neill with Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas & Princess Adrienne

Swedish Royal Family: Madeleine of Sweden
Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill with their three children Leonore (l.), Nicolas and Adrienne (Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström,

The youngest daughter of the royal couple is Princess Madeleine (*1982), the Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland. In 2013, she married the British-American businessman Christopher Paul O’Neill (*1974), whom she met during her time in New York. As he does not have Swedish citizenship, he has not been given a title of nobility and is not an official member of the court, even though he is a member of the royal family.

They have lived in Florida, USA with their three children since 2018. Their eldest daughter is Princess Leonore (*2014), Duchess of Gotland, who was born in New York. Their younger children are Prince Nicolas (*2015), Duke of Ångermanland, and Princess Adrienne (*2018), Duchess of Blekinge.

Madeleine is the godmother of Prince Oscar and Prince Gabriel, the children of her siblings.

The Royal Palace in Stockholm

Even though the individual families of the Swedish royals live in different places, the Kungliga slottet, the Stockholm castle on the island of Stadsholmen, is still the official seat of government of the royal family. It was built between 1690 and 1750. The family members have their offices here, while a large part of the castle can be visited. The changing of the guard takes place here every day at lunchtime.

Royal Palace in Stockholm
The “Kungliga slottet” in Stockholm
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